Has the netbook had its day?

Has the netbook had its day?

Summary: With Apple's iPad making its presence felt in homes and offices, it's time to ask the question: who needs a netbook?


Netbooks originally addressed the need for affordable and highly portable devices aimed at basic computing — email, web surfing and light productivity work. Some would argue that Apple's iPad now fills that niche, and with Apple selling two million units in the first two months since launch, it's worth asking whether netbooks are still relevant.

The netbook phenomenon kicked off in October 2007 with the launch of the ASUS Eee PC 701, a 7in., 900MHz Celeron-M-based system weighing 920g and costing £219

To help shed a little light on this question, we asked Asus, Dell and Acer to supply us with three netbooks — at the high-end, mid-range and low end respectively — to spend some time with and discover whether any or all of them remain suited to that universal, go-everywhere computer role.

We define a netbook as a device that uses an Intel Atom or equivalent processor, has a screen no bigger than 12in., delivers extended (>4h) battery life and costs no more than £400 (inc. VAT). Note that the Apple iPad costs between £429 and £699 (inc. VAT) depending on configuration.

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Reviews

Manek Dubash

About Manek Dubash

Editor, journalist, analyst, presenter and blogger.

As well as blogging and writing news & features here on ZDNet, I work as a cloud analyst with STL Partners, and write for a number of other news and feature sites.

I also provide research and analysis services, video and audio production, white papers, event photography, voiceovers, event moderation, you name it...

Back story
An IT journalist for 25+ years, I worked for Ziff-Davis UK for almost 10 years on PC Magazine, reaching editor-in-chief. Before that, I worked for a number of other business & technology publications and was published in national and international titles.

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  • Guess I agree. I've have an Aspire One 8.5" with an additional 9hr extended battery, but prefer the 10" as it is hardly any bigger, but has a much better screen. The standard battery that it (10") came with really does last 6 hours! I deal on trains, planes and probably feel lost without it. To me, the main advantage over the iPad (apart from those mentioned) is a keyboard. Don't under estimate the ease of use of a real keyboard over these touchscreens.
  • I think the net book is a standardized form factor, and a fairly desirable one. All that remains is to cram in i 7 type performance into the little things, along with a 24 hour battery life (just so you'll run out when you least expect it).
    roger andre
  • you're comparing apple to orange. In case of iPad, Apple to a latest fade. iPad is nothing but a large iPod touch without a hard-drive.

    Netbook are worth buying because they're a small computer, you can take them with you in jogging, and sit by the tree, and finish your eassy, or virtual test. Not to mention run some application -- and free of iTune Nazi.